NEW YORK, May 2 -- Miami’s Alonzo Mourning has been named winner of the 2002 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

The award, named for the second commissioner of the NBA and presented annually since 1975, honors an NBA player or coach for exemplary community service.

“Winning the J. Walter Kennedy Award pleases me because it makes me part of such a select of group of guys who have had tremendous impact on their communities and other people’s lives,” Mourning said. “It is important for us as players to be active in our communities for the simple fact that we have the resources. We’ve been blessed with so much talent and skills – a lot of which people look up to – so we have a huge impact on our community and we should use that to our advantage and try to reach out to as many people as we can.”

Mourning was recognized for his contributions.
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NBAE/Getty Images
Mourning, who was diagnosed with a kidney disorder in October 2000, created Zo’s Fund for Life, which raises money for the Glomerular Institute at Columbia University, a division of the New York Presbyterian Hospital and one of the leading centers for research and clinical studies on kidney disease in the United States. Mourning has already raised more than $2 million toward his goal of $4 million for the Institute, and has become one of the world’s leading donors for research and treatment of Focal Segmental Glomeruloscleroscis, the most common cause of kidney disease among African-Americans. Mourning spends countless hours counseling others who are affected by kidney disease and makes individual donations to people who cannot afford medicine.

His offseason community service is highlighted by efforts through Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc., including "Zo's Summer Groove," a three-day charity weekend event, which has raised more than $1.8 million over the past five years for various organizations including 100 Black Men of South Florida; the Children's Home Society, a foster care resource group; and the Overtown Youth Center. Recently, Mourning has been focused on the "Zo’s Summer Groove, Hampton Roads," a celebrity softball game, free basketball clinic and golf tournament in his hometown of Chesapeake, Va., that raises money for Boys & Girls Clubs and Chesapeake Care Free Clinic, a center that aides families who cannot afford healthcare.

Mourning was also honored at the beginning of this season by USA Weekend Magazine with the ninth annual Most Caring Athlete Award. Other nominees for this season’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award include Portland’s Steve Kerr (runner-up), Philadelphia’s Eric Snow, Toronto’s Jerome Williams and Dallas’ Steve Nash.

Previous winners are Wes Unseld, Slick Watts, Dave Bing, Bob Lanier, Calvin Murphy, Austin Carr, Mike Glenn, Kent Benson, Julius Erving, Frank Layden, Dan Issel, Michael Cooper, Rory Sparrow, Isiah Thomas, Alex English, Thurl Bailey, Doc Rivers, Kevin Johnson, Magic Johnson, Terry Porter, Joe Dumars, Joe O’Toole, Chris Dudley, P.J. Brown, Steve Smith, Brian Grant, Vlade Divac and Dikembe Mutombo.

The PBWA, established in 1973, is an international organization of 150 writers and editors who regularly cover professional basketball.